In wake of the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case, emotions were running high in cities around the country and here in St. Louis. People wanted an outlet to let the world know they cared.
Spontaneous rallies started as peaceful gatherings from New York to California. But as is sometimes the case, those with personal agendas turned those gatherings into unlawful assemblies. The rally held in our city on Sunday was peaceful. The majority of the attendees were well-behaved and respectful. Police officers stood side by side with participants listening to speakers.
But as was the case in other cities, a few clearly had their own agenda. When the rally turned into a protest, four individuals were arrested when they violated the law. It was clear that these individuals had their own plans and were not aligned with the wishes of the Martin family, who called for peaceful gatherings.
While I am empathic to the issue at the core of these rallies, we all expect the citizens of our community to act peacefully and respectfully. When people turn hostile, they put other people at risk.
I want to be clear, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to ensuring every citizen’s constitutional rights of freedom of speech and assembly in a lawful manner, however we are equally committed to keeping our city and our residents safe.
As organizers prepare for their next event, I urge calm, peace and free speech…It is what our community expects and deserves.